When Juno Award-winning children's performer Norman Foote makes his return to Whistler on Oct. 19, he's planning to bring some zombies, angels, and ghouls along to help.
"I call it the scariest choir in town," he says.
Well, considering most choirs are decidedly un-scary (unless perhaps you've joined one to face your stage fright), he might be right. His backing choir will be made of elementary students from Myrtle Philip Community School donning costumes and performing his beloved songs alongside him.
And, if you're faint of heart, don't worry. "The show is more on the fun side of Halloween," Foote adds. "It's not on the scary side; it's fun and musical."
The show is dubbed "The Howl" A Musical Masquerade and will kick off with a Halloween mask making session at the Maury Young Arts Centre beforehand. "We're really trying to get people to join in and wear their costumes and join the show," Foote says.
The hour-long event will incorporate his unique blend of music and comedy—with laughs promised for both kids and their parents.
"A lot of times in the audience you've got mostly parents. My show is equally as much for the parents as it is for the kids. I do a lot of comedy comparing the old days to now. When I was young we had to make our Halloween costumes out of a bed sheet and grandpa's wig. We'd carry our candy in a pillowcase. I get them laughing and the kids laugh. There's humour in there for the parents and the kids," he says.
Foote has been honing his show for more than three decades. Alongside a JUNO Award for Best Children's Album, he's earned four Western Canadian Music Awards and was named SOCAN's best songwriter.
At his core, he's a guitar player and a songwriter. "My shows are really organic," he says. "I don't play with tracks. I'm a guitar player. I've played in all sorts of places. I take my guitar playing seriously and my song writing seriously and comedy sketches."
While he just released his latest album, Everybody Sings, in November 2018, he's already working on a new record based on time he's spent in Canada's North.
"The North has changed a lot," he says. "I went up to Inuvik to play the Sunrise Festival and they asked me to go up to all the communities. I went up two more times. I became really familiar with the North."
He also has a deep relationship with Whistler. He's performed in the resort multiple times—most recently at the Whistler Children's Festival two years ago—in various iterations.
In fact, incorporating children's choirs into his act is an idea from Alison Hunter who taught music at Spring Creek Community School for many years. "I learned an awful lot from her and other music teachers in Whistler," he says.
"I'm thrilled to come back to Whistler. I'm going to tell stories about what it was like when I used to come up there."
Having grown up in Squamish, Foote says he remembers when there was still just a logging road connecting that community to the resort. "You went up the mountain for 10 bucks or something," he says. "I had wooden skis and the first run I did, I fell and broke my skis."
With the show just around the corner, Foote encourages all Whistler kids to get their costumes ready to join in.
"This show has been very successful for me," he says, adding he performed a version in Whitehorse recently. "It's a weird energy because you don't hear a lot of music with Halloween. It's a lot of my regular songs, but I've adapted them. The kids are all singing in costumes and, for some reason, that brings a different energy."
"The Howl" A Musical Masquerade takes place at the Maury Young Arts Centre on Saturday, Oct. 19.
Mask making (included in the ticket price) will take place at 1 p.m. and the show will start at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $10 in advance or $15 on the day of the show. Get them at showpass.com/norman-foote-halloween/.